14 December 2015

Signal frame

Again, its been a while. Just to let those who watch this blog that its author is still kicking here are a couple of my favourite shots of Eumungerie.

The signal frame was always out in the elements at Eumungerie, although somewhat protected by being located between the two buildings on the platform.

In 1979 the remaining building needed a paint job, but the frame still looked very servicable and well-used.

While the frame only possessed seven signal levers, there was a very nice signalling diagram to assist staff.

Here's a view of the rear of the station building (again in 1979) sowing the rear of the frame.

Even after the demise of the final station building, the frame lived on.  Here it is around 1995 when the NSW Railways were entering their minimalist phase.

The signal frame was gone at some stage in the following decade, leaving only the  hut.

So there is another little piece of Eumungerie's railway history remembered.

Ciao for now!

22 October 2015


Its been too long! I was scrolling through the diminishing list of photos of Eumungerie, thinking of what next to inflict upon you poor sods. Then I found these... four photographs taken over the course of a decade or so with one common element - beasts.

The first is from the mid-1960s and it has 3004T headed south with a two BSVs loaded with sheep and then a BCW. Probably a fair few beasts loaded into other wagons out of view too.

I thought the last photo was a bit strange in that wagons moving sheep and cattle were adjacent to each other on the same train - my otherwise tidy mind prefers to remember stock trains loaded with steaks or chops, but not mixed grills.

Then I looked at the next photo - its the four wheel version of the same thing. This time its a GSV immediately behind 3262, then a CW.  This time the beasties leaving the Coonamble branch were being accompanied by an empty ballast wagon, and probably others. Keen eyed observers may also identify another beast - in the form of a young laddie, scurrying away.

The pattern of beef and sheep is continued in this shot of 3203 headed north, with empties.  The date is 13 April 1966.

And finally, about a decade on, the motive power has changed but not the rolling stock. A morning northbound pickup, led by 4910, has a string of at least eight cattle wagons. Within that string there is still variety in style and hue.

Its time to leave the beasts of yesteryear - the steam powered, the internal combustion and the grass fed ones.

Ciao for now!

08 August 2015

The last passengers...

Next month it will be 40 years since regular passenger services were withdrawn from the Coonamble line on 22 September 1975. Funny how time slips away.

I have used a couple of these photos years ago but haven't really put up a complete set of what the last decade of passenger services was like. A couple really aren't all that 'publishable' - but I have low standards so please just flick through them!

Starting from 1966 here is the Far West Express off to Coonamble on an overexposed (or just very sunny) day.

In January 1967 the same service was photographed.  This time it had the purpose-built guardsvan attached (I think it was coded ETP?), whereas the first photo had the more standard EHO van.

Even though the photographs have deteriorated a lot, I still marvel at the sheen displayed on the diesel rail cars - something that was never maintained in later years.  This sheen was not just displayed on DEB sets.  On those days that the Far West Express ran elsewhere, the Coonamble line received a visit from a 2 car diesel set with van.  Here it is on 12 April 1966. The varnish extended to the EHO which can be seen a little more clearly in this photograph.

The pride the Railways took in their rolling stock did not stop at their motorised rail cars.  Even when the anticipated holiday loadings necessitated the replacement of the 2 car diesel with loco-hauled passenger trains, the rolling stock was polished up nicely. 

I think this shot was taken around 1968, as the top of the wheat bulkheads can be seen behind the second carriage. The loco is 48101.

The next two photographs were taken in 1969, and were probably taken on consecutive (very cloudy) days.  The 1960s were a period when it did rain in the central west of NSW, especially when we went there on holidays.  In this next photo, 48103 leads two BS/FS carriages and a VHO van.

And this penultimate offering is from the shady side of the tracks, taken on a cloudy wet day, and the photo was underexposed. It is 48102 running with the 'two carriage & van' consist.

And I'll finish with a black and white snap from 1970. With 5 years still to run (though we didn't know it then) the 'good camera' wasn't even taken out to get this train.  Instead the old Agfa Instamatic was used and this then 7 year-old cub train hunter was allowed to take this photograph - funny how some things stay with you.

Ciao for now!

11 July 2015

A small correction: never say never

About four years ago on this blog I ran through all of the railway proposals associated with the Coonamble railway that I was aware of. None of these ever made it to fruition, of course, though several from Gilgandra made eminent sense. 

There was even one branchline suggested with Eumungerie as its junction. It was to run to Quambone, via Collie. By the late 1920s the proposal had developed to reach Walgett. If this line had been built it would have been the main spine of the branchline, with the line to Coonamble being treated as a spur.

Anyway, I remembering sucking up a big breath and suggesting in one of those blogs that 50 years of railway boosterism on the Castlereagh region ended around 1930.  Events of the following 15 years (the Great Depression and the Second World War) brought a temporary end to railway expansion and by the time Australia had recovered from these two great interruptions, other modes had made significant incursions into the Castlereagh's passenger and freight transport task.

So I better correct the record...

I have just uncovered a newspaper report from the Gilgandra Weekly of 10 July 1947.It shows a pretty developed proposal to build a railway from Eumungerie to Walgett via Collie, Quambone and Carinda.  The mayoral minute at the centre of the proposal suggested it would be 'tapping a vast area of fertile lands suitable for closer settlement'.

In August 1947 the railway leagues in the centres of Walgett, Collie, Quambone and Carinda journeyed to the 'authorities in Sydney with a view to securing approval for the proposed railway'.  This delegation had the support of Dubbo Municipal Council and other public bodies.

It would have been a fair undertaking to pursue in postwar Australia.  About 320 kilometres of new railway would be needed, and a fair portion of the land to be traversed was already settled (bringing compensation to landholders into question).

The reception this proposal received in Sydney is unknown, but it can be guessed at. The 20 years which had elapsed since it had been considered in the late 1920s had done its chances only harm.  Road transport was now the favoured mode. And if you look at Quambone, Collie and Carinda on Google maps these days, roads did none of these small country towns any favours.

Ciao for now!

12 May 2015

Turning locos at Coonamble

Just a quick blog to publicise a terrific little article by Jim Stokes in this month's Railway History on turning C32 class locos on the 50 foot turntable at Coonamble.

Not only does the article star one of my favourite Dubbo 32s, 3230, it is a nicely illustrated and informative short article about a process I would never have seen (because if I had travelled 154 miles on a mixed on a Saturday, knowing that there was another 154 miles to go, I would have gone to the pub).

Having now read the article about 5 times I still can't work out who had the worse job- the fireman who got to push the turntable or the driver who had to hang onto the rear end of a tenderless 32 class.

If you have a spare $8.40 it's a bargain!

Ciao for now!

26 April 2015

How to store wheat

It has been a while, however it is not lack of interest, just time.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I have been trawling Trove - the Australian National Library's excellent digitised newspaper (and other documents) service for stories about the Coonamble line. It was always a manageable task until Trove recently uploaded years of the Wellington Times, Narromine News and Trangie Advocate, and the Gilgandra and Castlereagh Weekly onto the site. Now I think I know more about the comings and goings at Eumungerie in the 1930s than the then-residents did. There have been many gems which I hope to write up in coming months but for now I heading back to that favourite topic of mine - wheat storage and transport.

This is the Eumungerie grain storage facility that I grew up with - SO41 bins and a bulkhead.

 Prior to the erection of the wheat bulkheads in 1968, bulk wheat was stored under a makeshift corrugated iron shed in those years when the harvest was greater than the capacity of the silo.  Here is a shot of the temporary shed from the south, taken in 1963.

Before there was bulk what, it was bagged wheat.  And lots of it. I don't know the year the following photo was taken, but I suspect it was early to mid-1930s. Taken from the silo itself, in the left foreground there is a slab of railway sleepers awaiting bagged wheat.

Every time I look at the previous photograph I find something new.  I have been mesmerised by the queue - with the collection of now vintage trucks and drays all waiting their turn to unload. Until now I hadn't notices the laconic pose of the gentleman sitting on the edge of the wheat stack.

It hasn't been all Trove treasures though. The humble Facebook has turned up the Eumungerie Community page. I never like to swipe other people's stuff off the internet, particularly without attribution but I cant find the owner of the following photo so describing how I cam upon it will have to do for fir dealing etc. Anyway, its a cracker!

It shows a half stacked wheat stack, taken from Eumungerie station. Just look at the way it was stacked, with the vertical walls facing the railway line.

Looking further north, two more stacks can been seen. These appear to be hay or wool stacks but are too indistinct to be identified properly. A gem of a photo!

So, for me its back to Trove and more digging!

Ciao for now,



14 February 2015

A few memories of wheaties at Eumungerie

Given that I have written more about grain traffic on the Coonamble branch than any other human (how's that for a claim to fame?) I should really know 'stuff', but I don't. It falls to the generosity of time and spirit of others to improve my education, along with a couple of decent national institutions. I am going to drag a few of these influences together in this post.

First, a very straightforward explanation of peak season wheat train workings in the Eumungerie area provided by my father...

When the peak was on, a train of empties would arrive early and drop off the Eumungerie allocation on the silo track. These would be gravitated or barred to the chute and loaded. 

In the afternoon a loco (tender leading) and van would arrive from Dubbo and pick up the now loaded train and return it to Dubbo. The original would have continued on dropping off empties as allocated towards Gilgandra. 

As this area of land was marginal for wheat growing, there was extensive use of superphosphate.  This came from Newcastle or Port Kembla in tarped 'S' trucks. These were often added to the afternoon engine/van train and placed on the loading bank or near the crane.

Finally in the late afternoon the original loco would come back from Gilgandra and head to Dubbo with its loaded train.

Second, many will know of Col Hussey's most excellent blog Essence, worth reading both for the HO railway under construction and Col's explanation of real life operations on the NSWGR. Through the Aus_Model_Rail chat group Col recalled that during the large 1964/65 wheat harvest, trains that operated from Dubbo as far as Gilgandra were worked by bogie tendered 32 class as there was a triangle there to turn them there.  On specials that ran as far as Eumungerie they ran tender first out and engine first back. So, I think we have corroboration!

Finally, the benefit of having decently resourced national institutions? I refer in particular to the National Library of Australia's Trove website which contains 15,000 references to Eumungerie alone. It also has a series of photographs taken in December 1958 by a Mr J Tanner. I am reproducing several of the series below to illustrate the wheat loading process at Eumungerie.

First up, the morning train has been out and deposited a collection of BWH and RU hoppers on the silo road. One BWH has been loaded and a RU is in the process of being loaded.

Here is a close-up of the RU being loaded - great OHS!

Inside the road receival facilities farmers were either dumping bulk grain, or emptying bagged grain.

Emptying bagged grain would have been particularly lousy and hot work. Lucky this bloke is well dressed for it!

Finally, other farmers have a decent wait, especially if every bag needs to be emptied. Note the loaded BWH and directly behind it, a rare shot of the station officer's residence.

I strongly encourage everyone to log onto the Trove site - it is a national treasure.  I'll refrain from calling Col and my father national treasures, but they are very useful sources!

Ciao for now!

25 January 2015

Dubbo's steam shunters

Yes, it has been a while but for once it hasn't been my slackness or distractions... my 'telco service provider' hasn't been able live up to its name since the week before Christmas.

My last post involved LVR's esteemed P class, 3237. I don't have any shots of it at Eumungerie or working the Coonamble branch, but I do have a collection of steam locos shunting Dubbo yard in the 1960s which does include 3237.  So I thought I would dig them up.

When sorting the photos I have been a bit sidetracked by 30T tenders - the forthcoming 30T model by Shrike Models being in the back of my mind (and wallet). So, tenders is a bit of a focus for the first few photos. First up, 3055T with its bogie tender.

3080T has the standard 30T six-wheel tender.

3102T has the less common narrower, six-wheel tender nicked from a scrapped Z16 class loco.

Here is two shots of 3122T, and I don't know what chronological order they should be in.  They are evidence however that 30Ts swapped tenders from time to time. Here is 3122 with a bogie tender.

And here it is with a six-wheel tender.  OK, the front of the loco has been cropped off by the photographer, but the interest in this particular shot is the antiquated equipment being used to make repairs to the driving rods (note the slide rods cover is off).

The last of the 30T collection for the time being is 3142T in the distance. Take my word for it! I love this photograph for the quality of the roof on the shed and the ash stacked high in the S wagon in the foreground. Great character!

If you haven't had enough of 30Ts, scroll down to my post in May 2014 (or click this link) to see blue 3028T with a bogie tender and green 3144T with a six wheel tender and extended smoke box.  Unfortunately I don't have any photos of a 30T at Dubbo with a Baldwin tender! Leaving 30Ts we return to the loco which started this post - 3237.

I think I may have posted the following photo before? Anyway 3289 looks so nice it deserves another run.

For the last shot it is time to take a peak at Dubbo's own standard goods - 5408.

Its good to be back on the air... ciao!